Equilibrium separation and filtration of particles using differential inertial focusing

Anal Chem. 2008 Mar 15;80(6):2204-11. doi: 10.1021/ac702283m. Epub 2008 Feb 15.


Rapid separation and filtration of particles in solution has a wide range of applications including blood cell separation, ultrasound contrast agent preparation, and purification of fermentation products. However, current techniques that provide quick processing rates are high in complexity. We present a rapid microfluidic filtration technology capable of separating particles based on size, with purities from 90 to 100% and high-volume throughputs of 1 mL/min. Data for separation of rigid particles, deformable emulsions, and platelets from whole blood are presented. The system is based upon differential inertial focusing of particles of varying sizes and allows continuous separation based only on intrinsic hydrodynamic forces developed in a flow through an asymmetrically curved channel. A theoretical description of the underlying forces is developed, and in combination with data determining a size cutoff for separation, a semiempirical relationship describing how channel geometry is related to this cutoff is shown. Cascading separations in series is shown to be useful for increasing purity and yield. This type of microfluidic system can filter deformable particles, is largely independent of particle density, and can provide throughputs typical of macroscale filtration in a compact format, enabling applications in blood filtration and particle concentration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fermentation
  • Filtration / methods*
  • Microfluidics